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The Cattle Car: Including "Letter to a Little Girl"

Overview


In this first English translation of Georges Hyvernaud's autobiographical novel The Cattle Car, the narrator, who has come back to France after imprisonment in Germany, is preoccupied with the near impossibility of writing a novel about his experiences. At the same time, he attempts to function normally in a world that seems to have changed radically. Bouncing back and forth from the existential hell of postwar France to the truer one he endured during the war, the narrator works on his memoir, "The Cattle Car" ...
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Overview


In this first English translation of Georges Hyvernaud's autobiographical novel The Cattle Car, the narrator, who has come back to France after imprisonment in Germany, is preoccupied with the near impossibility of writing a novel about his experiences. At the same time, he attempts to function normally in a world that seems to have changed radically. Bouncing back and forth from the existential hell of postwar France to the truer one he endured during the war, the narrator works on his memoir, "The Cattle Car" while struggling as a laborer in a monotonous life lived amidst mediocre people.

The book also includes "Letter to a Little Girl," Hyvernaud's eloquent open letter to his daughter describing his wartime imprisonment.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The Cattle Car ( paper June 1997; 154 pp.; 0-8101-6030-7; paper 0-8101-6031-5): Another view of WW II and its aftermath, in the first English translation of a novel (originally published in 1953 in France) by a critic and teacher who therein turned his own experiences and his reflections on them into a seductive metafiction. We observe the would-be writer of a novel about the war observing his own friends and neighbors, noting their strategies for survival and quotidian priorities (such as the relief, so to speak, of access to public urinals) and musing over the difficulty of capturing in coherent fictional form the lives of people concerned with "fatigue and varicose veins, gas bills to pay and waits in line to speak to someone at city hall." But the book isn't at all hermetic: It is further enlivened by vividly drawn characters and a commonsensical appreciation of the mundane satisfactions of simply making do and getting by.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810160309
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 5/20/1997
  • Edition description: Translated
  • Pages: 156
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Georges Hyvernaud (1902-83) was a professor of literature at the École Noramle in Arras, France, when he was conscripted at the start of World War II. Given the rank of lieutenant, he was captured with his unit in 1940 and impounded in several Pomeranian camps. In January 1945 he returned to France, carrying with him notebooks filled with notes that would become his two books. Hyvernaud's memoir of his wartime experiences, Skin and Bones, is available from The Marlboro Press.

Dominic Di Bernardi has translated the works of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Emmanuel Bove, and Simone de Beauvoir. He lives in Philadelphia.

Austryn Wainhouse is an author, translator, and the founder of The Marlboro Press. He lives in France and Vermont.

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Table of Contents


Letter to a Little Girl
The Cattle Car
Afterword
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